This blog was written while I was traveling around Italy this summer. Long bus rides sometimes make for the best writing experiences. It's been one crazy summer so these photographs are coming much later than I had anticipated.
The Mediterranean coast has treated me like a king the past two weekends. Between adventuring through the cities of Cinque Terre and relaxing on the beaches of the Amalfi Coast, I finally have declared it is Summer Vacation 2014!
We left on Friday with our minds full of architectural design, panini in hand, and one last espresso before hitting the road. I then proceeded to fall asleep for three hours, completely zonked out from a week of more work than should be legal while abroad. After reviving myself, I woke up to one of the most amazing views I have ever seen! I actually thought it was a dream for a split second, and it reminded me of my family's road trip in the summer of 2011, driving up through the mountains in Wyoming and finally peaking to an incredible view that no picture could ever justify.
We were blown away, lights sprinkled throughout the mountains, driving along the cliffs of the Mediterranean - we put a lot of trust in these Italian drivers out here because there is no room for mistakes. The two foot guardrail is not really providing much more than an enclosure in my opinion and the cliffs pretty much drop straight down a good thousand feet or two! Writing this, I'm actually sitting on the bus to our final destination, and looking back at the past two days, It's tough to grasp the amount of sights we've seen, walking we've done, and just all around amazement I've felt.
Day One. Capri
I have to begin with the Blue Grotto because out of everything I've seen and experienced in Italy, there is nothing comparable to this grotto. To put it simply, this cave lies on the shoreline of Capri and you squeeze into these tiny boats. Five of us men in one tiny little boat all sitting between each other's legs would've definitely been a hilarious aerial picture. The captain of this little boat brings you to what looks like a horizontal slit in the rock directly above the water. Within a flash, you all lay down as if you're lugeing down a mountain, he pulls the boat through this slit by pulling a chain, and as your eyes adjust to pure darkness ahead, you realize that everything around you is massive. Eyes adjusting, darkness in front and as you turn around, the water and shimmer on the walls of this massive cave are pure blue. We managed to borrow someone's waterproof camera for this excursion cause the Nikon wasn't coming with me for once and we were able to snag some pretty cool pictures. This cave has white sand at the bottom, only 20 meters down and the way the sun reflects off the sand creates the most magnificent natural color.
Once we left the grotto, the Nikon and I were reunited. I'm not sure I've ever shot so many pictures in one hour in my life. We immediately continued our boat tour of the island and I was determined to capture the best pictures I could. Between the boat rocking, water spraying, friends photobombing my pictures, I probably fired off 350 pictures in hopes of having at least a couple to work with. I've never really been on a motor boat like the ones we traveled on this weekend either, so that was an entirely new element for me and I loved it! I really loved it. Experiencing the ocean on a boat was completely freeing and stress free. That is why I have finally declared this summer vacation because I am finally stress free for the two or three days I managed to escape the city.
After departing the boat, we traveled from sea level to about 1,900 feet above sea level and that is one aspect about these coastal cities I have appreciated the most. The shear rise and fall in elevation is absolutely breathtaking. There are no words I can formulate to describe the feeling I had looking out into absolute perfection. Bluer water than you could ever imagine, boats everywhere, and a haziness in the atmosphere because we were in the clouds.
Day Two. Positano
I sinned in the photographers eye on day two. I left my camera at home because it was a beach day and I didn't want to be messing with the sand or sunscreen hindering my camera. But this day was completely different than the first because we hung out on the beach, which I've learned in Europe is not sand but small rocks that are super uncomfortable to walk on. They must laugh at all of the tourists suffering across the beach after being used to soft sand at home.
Despite the harsh sand, we made the most of this European beach by skipping the rocks across the ocean water.
I really haven't done this since I was little but it brought back memories of my childhood visiting my mom's parents in Martinsburg, PA. The whole Steele clan would gather at this spot in Rothrock State Park called Trough Creek. My siblings, my cousins, and I would gather rocks by the creek (crick as my relatives would call it) and skip them until dinner was ready. We did a lot of rock skipping, stick collecting, and hiking every time we'd visit my grandparents.
Flashing back to Italy, the water here is clear and aqua colored and beautiful. As we toured this part of the Amalfi Coast, I just stared. Stared at the mountains, the clouds hugging the top and creeping through the valleys. The way all of the buildings seem to sprout from the cliffs and just the pure beauty in the landscape around me. We were taken to this one secluded beach that had cliffs to jump off of. I have never really been keen on heights but it's been getting better over the years. Somehow, I had no hesitation with this though. I was up those rocks first and immediately went off. Feet first, cutting through the water to the bottom.
I think my heart may have stopped as my toes left the rock but the free fall was like nothing I've experienced.
This trip so far has been more than I could've ever asked for. Not everything is perfect because traveling is exhausting and living in Italy as an American can be really tough sometimes. But as a whole, looking back on what seems like a blink of an eye, I have learned so much. Not just educationally, but moreso about myself and about life in general. I've been run to the ground between class work and excursions around the city, but I am always looking for more. I've always seen myself as an adventurer and Italy has responded well to accommodating this for me. These weekend trips have really given me a chance to experience all different parts of Italy which is great.
Italy is definitely going to be one to remember. As we embark on our last week of classes, I can say I am excited what the next two weeks of traveling have to offer. I also need to start working on the rest of my pictures because they are exponentially growing. In that respect, check back throughout the summer to see the rest of my pictures from Italy! There are plenty more albums to come!